Guess what! More food for you today, but this time it’s not me cooking, oh no, this is something pretty special. On Saturday, I met my Mum and headed over to the studio where they record Saturday Kitchen for A Taste of Saturday Kitchen. My Dad treated my Mum to two tickets for her Birthday and she decided to take me. Woop!
The experience was split into a number of different sections and after being treated to a coffee and pastry we headed off for a studio tour. The experience started at 12:45 and with no promise of lunch, I ate two breakfasts. This was unnecessary as we were fed PLENTY, my two breakfasts did not stop my gusto, after all I was running 20 miles the day after!
If you’e ever been to a TV studio/seen one on television then I’m sure you can imagine what the Saturday Kitchen studio was like, I’ve done a tour of BBC television centre and the set up is quite similar except that Cactus Kitchens’ (the production company) studio is in an old converted building. You can’t tell on TV but the ‘kitchen’ where James Martin Cooks is a converted chapel and the galley in an old safe!
The bit the interested me most is the tiny kitchen where the lovely Michaela does all the hard work behind the scenes ensuring all the food is ready on time and prep work done during the show.
After our bit of exercise for the day we headed up to one of the ante rooms for a spot of wine tasting with the fabulous and knowledgeable Andy. This was my favourite part of the day, chatting, enjoying wine and little morsels of food in a relaxing atmosphere. I tweeted Andy to say they should do a whole experience of wine tasting!
Andy talked us through all the amazing wine and food pairings in a non nonsense manner, he told us the trick for him and the wine experts on the show is to pretend they are talking to their Dads! If their Dads can understand it then we can too! He made us all laugh with stories of glamourous trips with the wine experts to Morrisons in Cardiff!
We had 5 wines to taste, but the first was definately my favourite. Luckily we had two bottles to the table and were allowed to pour or own portions, none of those silly soupçons you get on some wine tastings. I was good and poured some of my tastings away and went back for a second of the fabulous white!
To keep us from getting too tipsy before the rest of our experience, Michaela was in the prep kitchen whipping us up delicious morsels paired to each wine. This is even more
remarkable considering she had been there since 5am, cooked for the rehearsal, cooked for the show and still had a sunshiney disposition to chat to us!
Whilst we were tasting our last wine our celebrity chef for the day popped in for a glass, I recommended my favourite and he went for it! We were joined for the day my Francesco Mazzei and L’Anima Chef Antonio Favuzzi. As my dad booked it as a gift My Mum was allowed to pick which day we attended, with the likes of Atul Kutcher and Ching He-Huang on offer I was a little disappointed that she chose Francesco but he changed my mind!
Our last wine tasting was a surprising one, to go with an enormous portion of pavlova we had Asti Spumante (don’t snort) it makes a fabulous dessert wine and a nice refreshing change to the sweet, dark and sticky mouthfuls your are often served. The Spumante was a perfect accompaniment to the pavola, and I’ll be grabbing a bottle for the next dinner party we have.
After the wine tasting we headed down to the studio for a quick photo opportunity with the chef himself and this is where he turned my head (and charmed me a little bit, maybe, *blushes*). I had a major camera fail, somehow I accidentally set it on 10 sec timer before handing over to my Mum, which confused her no end and then I couldn’t work out what had happened. I changed the battery, the memory card and tried a dozen things before working it out. Francesco had the patience of a saint and posed for a dozen non-photos before we finally got the money shot.
Next we followed Francesco up to the cookery class room for the main attraction of the day!
Francesco and Antonio (my favourite) demonstrated this beautiful recipe which he made on Saturday Kitchen. Fregola is a pasta but is so tiny it looks like cous cous. You use it in place of risotto rice or cous cous. We were sent home with bags to try out, so I’ll let you know how I get on.
The chefs chatted away to us during the demonstration, encouraging us to get up and look at the ingredients and taste, one of the stars of this dish is a soft spiced salami (on the side of the plate) which I will be trying to source. Francesco then said “everyone says they can make a bowl of pasta, but I’m not so sure” and listed a few dished which he believes are done wrong. One of which was Carbonara.
A small voice in my head said “I’m making that tonight, what’s the right way to make it “. But the voice was not so small and before I realised it had burst out and Francesco said “Well Antonio’s the expert, he’ll tell you” With no note pad I tried my best to commit to memory and was very pleased with the results. Thanks Antonio, my carbonara has changed for life!
Time for, the section of the day, we were all nervous about, facing the famous Omelette Challenge! My Mum did great and Francesco said hers was one of the few ones he would eat! He recommended seasoning, so we got the salt and pepper ready for my attempt.
I think I have made one omelette my whole life, so this was a real challenge for me. You may be able to tell by my face here! I wasn’t very quick but mine tasted good and I ate a good quarter of it! Even Francesco tasted it.
After the heat of the kitchen we were settled in another beautiful ante room with low sofas and the bright sunlight flowing through the windows. Georgie our host told us this is where the shows producer can be found sipping champagne with the celebs after the show!
We were treated to another coffee and pastry (I told you we needn’t worry about eating!) before the results of the omelette challenge were announced. We didn’t win, so no Saturday Kitchen mug for us but we got a nice magnet for our fridges!
My Mum and I had a fabulous day and the experience exceeded my expectations, it’s not cheap but for a special birthday and considering the high quality (and all the food and wine) it’s definitely worth it.
Well done to my Mum (Shirley) for picking Francesco, we’re already planning a trip to L’anima for her next birthday!
Thanks to the whole team for creating such a fun day and for putting up with my constant camera action!
Which chef would you have picked?